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Karzai Vows to Stamp out Corruption in Afghanistan

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the eve of his inauguration to discuss corruption. Gwen Ifill reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Secretary of State Clinton flew to Afghanistan today for the inauguration of President Karzai. And she called again for the Afghan government to reform itself and clean up corruption.

    Karzai will be sworn in tomorrow for a second five-year term.

    Gwen Ifill has our lead story report.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Secretary Clinton arrived in Kabul today at a critical moment, what she called a window of opportunity for the U.S. and Afghanistan.

    HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, secretary of state, U.S.: Hello, everybody.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Clinton headed into a locked-down Afghan capital, where fear of inauguration-related Taliban strikes has closed roads and limited travel. There were other behind-the-scenes tensions as the secretary, joined by the U.S. ambassador and commanding general, greeted President Karzai and Afghan officials.

  • HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:

    Congratulate you again on your reelection.

    HAMID KARZAI, Afghanistan, president: Thank you.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Speaking to U.S. Embassy staffers, Clinton made clear that Karzai faces tough new expectations.

  • HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:

    We stand at a critical moment for President Karzai and his government to make a new compact with the people of Afghanistan, to demonstrate clearly that we're going to have accountability and tangible results that will improve the lives of the people who live throughout this magnificent country.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Still, there was a fresh reminder this morning of the extent of official graft in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported the minister of mines allegedly took a $30 million bribe to grant a Chinese mining company rights to a huge copper deposit.

    On Monday, the Afghan government launched a new anti-corruption unit, the third in as many years. And at a news conference that day, the U.S. ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, said it was time for deeds, not words.

    Karzai has insisted he understands the need for action. But, in an interview with the NewsHour last week, he also pushed back against Western officials who have pressed for big changes.

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